Monday, May 6, 2019

Interview with Geoff Armstrong, Author of Moments That Made America: From the Ice Age to the Alamo

Geoff Armstrong began his teaching career in 1965 after receiving a teaching diploma from McGill University’s Macdonald College. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Montreal’s Concordia University in 1967 where his major field of study was history. Armstrong credits writers such as Bruce Catton, and Thomas B. Costain, as well as the encouragement of his father who had little formal education, but a deep love of reading and of history, as the inspiration for his own life-long interest.

Throughout a 25-year teaching career he taught history at several grade levels and learned quickly that to reach the hearts of his students, history had to be made immediately and deeply relevant and accessible: that some event that took place centuries before those students were born had a direct and profound influence on every aspect their lives. He also learned that talking down or writing down to his students was a recipe for defeat. It is this awareness, shaped by a quarter century of teaching and countless questions by thousands of intelligent young people that has informed and shaped his writing.

You can visit his website at

Where did you grow up?

I was Born in Liverpool, England, but grew up in the East End of Montreal, in Canada. The East End of Montreal was and probably still is a working class area where the belief was that if you wore a suit to work you were rich. My dad wore a truck driver’s uniform and was the most intelligent man I have ever known.

When did you begin writing?

I was fortunate to have a mother who read stories to me and my brother even before I could fully understand my own English language. She and my father also told us stories. With that example, by the time I was in first grade I began making up stories to tell my brother. My parents suggested that I write my stories down. Neither spelling nor grammar stood in my way. I suspect the stories were comprehensible only to me.

What is this book about?

Moments That Made America, as the name suggests is the story of the United States that tells that amazing story by focusing on those pivotal turning points or tipping points that have defined and shaped America. These are events that had they not happened or had the transpired differently, the United States would not exist or if it did manage to come in to being, would be unrecognizable. Too many Americans fail to understand that except for a extraordinary set of circumstances, some of them bordering on the miraculous, their nation shouldn’t exist at all: that in the entire five billion year history of this planet, their nation is unique. It is a lack of understanding and self-imposed ignorance that endangers the very survival of the United States.The first book in the series, Moments that Made America: From the Ice Age to the Alamo is available now, the second book, Moments that Made America: From Civil War to Superpower will be out in June this year. The final volume Moments that Made America: The American Century will be out in the new year.

What inspired you to write it?

For many years I have felt that too many Americans have little no understanding of the miracle of their country. Its entire existence was balanced on a knife edge of termination. Had any one of hundreds of events not transpired at all or not happened the way it did, America wouldn’t be here. I came to that realization many years ago. As I got older, I realized I had to try to explain. Therefore, I wrote what has turned out to be the first of three books on the subject. Book two is now on its way to the publisher with a June 2019 publication date planned.

How is it similar to other books in its genre? How is it different?

There is no shortage of excellent books on American history. Some of the best focus on the American Civil War. Works by authors such as Bruce Catton, Shelby Foote and James McPherson are outstanding examples. It was my reading of books by such writers that inspired my interest in history. What makes my book different is that I have focused on and detailed those specific events that, for better or worse, have made America the nation it is today. One excellent book that comes closest to the concept of Moments That Made America is The American Miracle: Divine Providence in the Rise of the Republic by Michael Medved. As the title suggests, Mr. Medved focuses on the role divine guidance and intervention played in the fortunes of the United States. He makes a strong case to support the theme noted by George Washington: "No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the affairs of men, more than the people of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency".

Moments That Made America covers some of the same events, of course, but where Medved goes into great detail in his successful search to reveal the workings of Divine Providence, I range farther afield and cover more history, not all of which reveals evidence of supernatural direction.

The idea that Divine Providence has a taken a personal and guiding interest in the unfolding of the American story is a popular and recurring theme. In Miracles of the American Revolution: Divine Intervention and the Birth of the Republic, author Larkin Spivey states categorically that the hand of God was indeed at work during that pivotal moment in American history. Spivey, a professor of military history and former Marine Corp officer presents evidence that supports the widely held belief that the success of the American revolution was the direct result of that Divine Intervention. Whether one believes Spivey or not, the book is compelling in its provocative account of the unusual events surrounding the Revolution and is well worth reading.

What is the most important thing readers can learn from your book?

That every American has the responsibility to treasure their country and to learn about how it was created.

Where can readers purchase a copy?

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, any online book seller. I’m not sure about brick and mortar bookstores

What is up next for you?

Finishing book three: Moments That Made America: The American Century

Is there anything you would like to add?

If you buy the book, pass it on to someone who doesn’t appreciate this amazing, impossible country.

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